Why? Didn’t the thing get Higgs a Nobel? Must be more prizes in there somewhere… 😉
Oh well, here:
The Higgs was, in a way, the end of the line. At the heart of particle physics is what’s known as the Standard Model: a group of 17 elementary particles and the rules for how they should interact. Up until the Higgs discovery, physicists had observed 16 of these particles—and the field was desperate for a 17th that would push the model in new directions. But the Higgs turned out to be totally ordinary. It acted just like the model said it would act, obeyed every theorized rule.
One of physicists’ greatest hopes for the new LHC is to not upend the Standard Model with new observations, but to extend it—by finding a partner for each of its 17 particles, validating a theory called supersymmetry. The Standard Model has a good explanation for the weak force, which allows one particle to turn into another. But physicists don’t know why the weak force is able to overpower gravity. Theories that explained that weirdness called for a Higgs with a huge mass, but the boson discovered in 2012 was relatively light. Observing supersymmetric particles that are also light could account for the discrepancies.
Is this an attempt to galvanize string theory again? The best untestable theory ever invented?
The Higgs could play a role in another unobserved particle, too: dark matter. It’s possible that the Higgs likes to turn into dark matter, or play some other role in its behavior. The LHC’s huge detectors measure what happens after collisions by detecting the energies of the resulting particles—and if part of the energy disappears, it could be a hint that dark matter appeared.
At least we could conceivably find some dark matter.
Then there’s matter and antimatter. … More.
Hmmm. Could it be that things make sense but aren’t exotic?
Of course, there’s always the possibility that things just don’t make sense, explored in Douglas Adams (1952–2001)’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
“What do you get if you multiply six by nine?”
“Six by nine. Forty two.”
“That’s it. That’s all there is.”
“I always thought something was fundamentally wrong with the universe”
See also: In search of a road to reality
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One Reply to “Wired: Physicists desperate to be wrong about Higgs boson”
“Six by nine. Forty two.”
Um, 6 x 7 = 42; 6 x 9 = 54
It’s been a while since I read any of the “Hitchhiker” books, so I don’t remember this bit of dialogue. I do recall a scene in the BBC TV show in which the crash-landed hairdressers and telephone sanitizers are looking at some board game and the playing pieces occupy 6 rows and 7 columns or something.